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RacingThePlanet announces joint seven-year scholarship program

RacingThePlanet announces joint seven-year scholarship program with the Esquel-Y.L. Yang Education Foundation for the education of young women of the Gobi Desert

Since runners first set off across the Gobi Desert as part of the inaugural race in the 4 Deserts series ten years ago, RacingThePlanet has donated over 1 million dollars to various charities.  In China this was primarily in the form of donations of sporting equipment, computer centers and more than 8,200 books to schools along the route of the Gobi March through a partnership with the Esquel-Y.L. Yang Education Foundation. In addition to this, RacingThePlanet has sponsored Operation Smile missions and raised funds for the victims of the Sichuan Earthquake in 2008.  A charitable approach is at the heart of RacingThePlanet’s aims, says founder Mary K. Gadams.

“One of the primary objectives of RacingThePlanet is to give back,” she says, adding: “We have always made it our mission to try and support people in the areas where our races are held, with a special emphasis on education and healthcare for minorities in the area.”

Amongst all the charitable causes that RacingThePlanet has been able to contribute to, there has always been one close to the heart of the organization: the children of the Gobi Desert.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary edition of the Gobi March, RacingThePlanet is going one step further by establishing the Esquel-RacingThePlanet Scholarship Program. The scholarship will support 10 Uyghur girls from Yili and Turpan areas over seven years as they go through school all the way to University.  The program builds on RacingThePlanet’s partnership with Esquel, an international cotton spinning and cotton farming business with a strong presence and affiliation with Xinjiang Province.

“This scholarship program aims to support girls who excel in their studies and those with a talent in sports with the necessary financial resources so they can complete high school and university education,” explains Agnes Cheng, Manager, Esquel Group and Esquel-Y.L. Yang Education Foundation. “Students are selected based on academic merits, financial needs and achievement in sports.”

In addition to financial support, recipients will be invited to be part of future Gobi March events as volunteers, broadening their cultural experiences and benefitting their inter-personal development. 

“Some teenagers who do well in their studies and those who desire to pursue higher learning are often forced to discontinue education because they are unable to pay for tuition fees and related expenses. Some girls marry young due to family, cultural or financial reasons and have to discontinue education as a result,” says Cheng.

The program will not only benefit the girls directly, but also their communities. “A broadened exposure can help to empower girls so that they can excel achieve their potential… and be leaders in their communities or in their professional fields,” says Cheng. “We are already seeing more and more capable women playing an increasingly important role in the Xinjiang society and we are happy to be a small part of this movement.”

“We are very happy to be able to create a long term future for girls of the minority cultures in the areas the Gobi March takes place,” adds President of Events at RacingThePlanet, Samantha Fanshawe.

by Rachel Jacqueline

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